The capital of Azerbaijan juts out into the Caspian Sea with lovely waterfront views and refreshing breezes. Baku might seem like a offbeat choice but visa reforms means it is now very straightforward and welcoming to travel to. Most younger residents speak a little English so the language barrier is easily overcome.

Baku is a city of contrast, with a UNESCO world heritage listed walled old town, monumental Soviet districts and ultra modern skyscrapers. Check out Maiden’s Tower, a mysterious 1000 year old turret with no obvious use but lots of wild theories about why it was constructed. Alternatively, get some seriously Instagrammable shots at the Heydar Aliyev. This majestic concert and exhibition space was designed by Zaha Hadid with undulating curves and space age styling.

For a more cultural experience Baku is a great city for shopping and eating. Haggle over a carpet or a copper pot or rummage in the flea markets for vintage Soviet badges and medals. Caviar is relatively cheap and look out for restaurants serving traditional kebabs cooked on a tandoor oven.

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Read more on Baku below with flight options, current weather, maps, and activities to try while you are there.

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